April 22, 2019
Unresolved Arguments: 3 Keys to Get to the Bottom of the Matter
Written by Rachel Eddins
You are having the same argument again. You know the one. It’s about that thing you and your partner constantly fight about. You argue. You debate. Maybe you scream, cry, and yell. However, it never gets resolved. Somehow, you stop arguing temporarily. You go back to normal life. Then, one day, the same old argument begins yet again. These are called unresolved arguments. Nobody wins. You never reach a compromise. Therefore, the problem never goes away.
How can get you to the heart of the matter and resolve the issue once and for all?
1. Sum Up the Problem Succinctly
If you keep arguing about the same thing then it might be because you don’t really know what you want. Therefore, it can be helpful to summarize the problem.
You and your partner should each do this separately. Furthermore, you should do it when you feel calm.
Here are the steps:
- Name the surface problem.
- Identify the feelings.
- Recognize the underlying problem.
- Identify your desired solution.
- Write this all out as a series of very short sentences.
For example, “I feel frustrated when you don’t do the dishes. This isn’t about the dishes. It’s because I feel like you don’t appreciate how tired I am at the end of the day. I would like for you to acknowledge that I’m tired.”
Of course, you might still need to come up with a compromise about the dishes. However, addressing the underlying issues in a clear and concise way goes a long way toward ending the unresolved argument once and for all.
2. Argue One Issue at a Time
One of the biggest problems with unresolved arguments is that they intrude upon every argument. This leads to even more unresolved arguments. Eventually, neither of you even knows what you’re arguing about.
You can get to the heart of the matter by agreeing to argue about only one issue at a time. As you begin to argue, pause, and ask what you are arguing about. Make sure that you agree about what the issue is. Furthermore, keep your commitment to only discuss that issue.
If one of you throws something at the other that isn’t about the issue, pause. Return to the issue when you’re able to discuss it and only it.
You can’t reach a conclusion to the argument if you keep adding new things to argue about. However, if the topic is clear, you can resolve the issue.
3. Speak from Your Partner’s Perspective
Couples often become polarized in their points of view. Typically, you both have mixed feelings about the issue. However, you have locked into your point of view, and therefore, you have trouble seeing your partner’s side.
One very powerful exercise to overcome this is to have the same old argument again. Except for this time, take each other’s point of view.
For example, let’s say that you always argue about sex. Your partner wants it all of the time. You have become the partner who always says no. You keep having this unresolved argument. Next time, you play the voice of the partner that wants sex. Ask your partner to play you.
If it’s too challenging to do this as an argument with your partner, then do it on paper instead. Each of you writes out the argument from your partner’s perspective.
This gives you each the opportunity to step into one another’s shoes. This creates empathy for one another. It also opens up new creative possibilities for resolving the issue.
When you begin to see that you each have more in common than you thought, then you can see a way out of the argument together.
End Unresolved Arguments with Help from a Couples Counselor
Sometimes it feels impossible to figure out what’s really at the bottom of unresolved arguments. Couples counseling can help you get clear on the issues so that you can stop having the same arguments again and again.
At Eddins Counseling Group, in Houston, TX, we have several couples counselors that can help you get to the root of your unresolved arguments. Call us at 832-559-2622 or book an appointment online to find new ways to tackle old conflicts for good.
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